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September 08, 2003


Lack of organization meant I have only belatedly picked up Neil Gaiman's Marvel-offering 1602.


1602, an eight-issue miniseries debuting August 13, 2003, takes place in Europe at a time of great change. The Catholic Church's Inquisition is pursuing and rounding up "witchbreed", strange individuals with all sorts of unexplained abilities. Many of the witchbreed flee to the relative safety of England, where they are taken under the wing of Carlos Javier, an expatriate Spaniard with extraordinary abilities of his own. An elderly Queen Elizabeth sits on the throne of England - her ministers include Sir Nicholas Fury, her Minister of Intelligence, and Dr. Stephen Strange, her Court Physician and Magician. As issue #1 begins, Fury sends a blind Irish balladeer named Matthew Murdock to Europe to retrieve, from the last of the Templars, a mysterious item that may be either weapon or treasure. Unfortunately, this item has also come to the attention of Count Otto von Doom (also called The Handsome), ruler of Latveria.

Most of the fun is in picking out the Elizabethan versions of Marvel's contemporary heroes. The alternate history conceit is the main reason for most to buy the book but I will not say much more for fear of spoilers. I will read almost anything by Neil Gaiman and feel like a displaced Elizabethan myself so I would have got into the series even if it did not star my favourite comic hero ever.

Rumour has it a Dr. Strange (as opposed to Doctor Strange) movie is in the works. This guy thinks Billy Crudup should be cast in the role due to complementary facial hair. I have not seen any of his films so cannot say beyond agreeing the Strange goatee needs to be reproduced faithfully. Despite his recent remarks I still think Johnny Depp's acting goatee would make the best Stephen Strange. That said, almost anything would be better than the 1978 made-for-tv version.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at September 8, 2003 12:00 AM



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Posted by: Randy McDonald at September 8, 2003 09:41 AM

Yeah, but that 1978 TV movie was a glass of (brackish, but still wet) water in the vast wasteland that was 70s TV.

A bud of mine and I used to chant the "In the Name of Rael, Scourge of Demons, I command you, Begone!" line back and forth to each other. We were inveterate geeks, of course.

In the early 80s, I was on the Universal Studios Tour (back in the day when the only place they had one was in California), and, off to one side, among other piles of debris and cast-off set pieces, were some of the Ditkoesque floating rocks upon which the TV's Dr. Strange had adventured, pale and sun-bleached. It was both sad and exhilarating.

I actually have the TV movie on VHS somewhere. Now I have an urge to watch it again. It was so 70s, true, but it was head and shoulders above anything comic-booky being offered at the time.

Posted by: *** Dave at September 9, 2003 03:58 PM